Michael Vick led the Eagles past Detroit in his return as a starting quarterback, the Patriots went AWOL in the second half in New York, and the Texans continued their, “we are legit” tour, but barely.
Let’s review the events of week two. Please feel free to share if I missed anything.
Week Two Headlines
Maybe the Jets are Legit
New York Jet fans didn’t even have enough time to empty the team’s bandwagon before they were piling back on. In what was unquestionably the most impressive win of week two, Mark Sanchez outdueled Tom Brady in the second half to avoid an 0-2 start and the endless barrage of questions that would have come with it. Three things New York’s victory confirmed: First, for all the yapping the team did in the offseason, the Jets actually have the gusto to back up their arrogance. After an embarrassing defeat to Baltimore in week one, the Jets remained relaxed and confident. There was absolutely no panic from the team or their boisterous coach. Clearly, they knew how good they were, and after Sunday’s effort, we know too. Second, Mark Sanchez may not be a “quarterback caretaker” a la Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, and rookie year Ben Roethlisberger (all average to below average QB’s who rode great defenses to Super Bowl titles) like we thought a week ago. After looking shaky in week one and through most of the first half in week two, Sanchez finally emerged in the final drive of the second quarter and handed the Jets a huge momentum changing field goal en route to scoring 21 unanswered points. Sanchez finished with three touchdowns, completed 70% of his passes, and looked composed as he closed out the defending AFC East champions. Third, at some point in the season, Tom Brady and the Patriots will need to find a running game. 20 rushes for 52 yards won’t cut it in the rugged AFC.
Out of The Doghouse
Michael Vick’s return as a starting NFL quarterback couldn’t have gone much better. It probably earned him a fat contract in the offseason too. Vick looked fantastic as he turned a 14-17 deficit into a 35-17 lead before the Eagles defense collapsed down the stretch. Even at the age of 30, Vick’s greatest asset is still his elusiveness. While he takes his fair share of sacks, Vick creates more opportunities for his receivers to get open than a typical quarterback like Kevin Kolb. Because the Philadelphia wide receivers are undersized, that extra time is invaluable. Vick’s ability to buy time eliminates the defense’s success with bumping the receivers at the line as those extra seconds allow the receivers time to create separation. On top of creating plays, Vick completed over 60% of his passes and more importantly, committed zero turnovers. As great as it was to see Vick succeed in his six quarters of action, his success has put an enormous amount of pressure on the shaky shoulders of Kevin Kolb. If Kolb can’t keep the offense moving, the cries for Vick will get louder with every incompletion.
The Texans May Have Finally Arrived
In my week two picks, I offered: “This is a monster game for the Texans. To prove they’re an elite team, they’ll need to go on the road and defeat a formidable opponent after an emotional division victory in week one.” For the first 41 minutes of Sunday’s contest against Washington, the Texans looked like the same team that’s disappointed over the past few seasons. This year may be different. Houston battled to put up 20 unanswered points en route to a surprising overtime victory. (Now take a deep breath for this run-on sentence….. ) The only thing more impressive than winning on the road against a talented opponent after an emotional division victory at home is winning on the road against a good team when trailing in the 4th quarter. (And breath…) Good teams play well on the road. Coming from behind in the final quarter to win is a trait of elite teams. We’re only two games in, but the Texans are well on their way to elite status. In week one, they ran over the Colts. On Sunday afternoon, they aired it out for over 400 yards against a talented Washington defense. When on their game, the Houston offense is virtually unstoppable. If Mario Williams (3 sacks on Sunday, 4 in two games) and DeMeco Ryans can keep the defense healthy and competitive, the Texans will develop into one of the league’s top teams in 2010.
It’s Too Early to Panic, but It’s Definitely Time to Worry
After only two weeks of play, it’s a little early to label preseason favorites as “frauds.” However, there are currently three teams that were Superbowl contenders heading into the season that are now flirting with fraud status. The most obvious team is the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo threw for over 280 yards again in a losing effort. As a team, the Cowboys averaged 1.8 yards per rush. With a lousy offensive line and a miserable running game, opposing defenses will pin their ears back and come after Romo. Until Jason Garrett and Wade Phillips wise up and commit to a running attack, the Cowboys are going to disappoint yet again. The Minnesota Vikings are in a similar situation. Brett Favre again came out of retirement to lead the Vikings back into the playoffs. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Favre has played like he’s returned from a retirement home rather than his Mississippi ranch. He’s looked sluggish, sloppy, and totally disinterested. Favre committed four turnovers in another defeat in which his offense produced only one touchdown. Maybe Jared Allen, Ryan Longwell, and Steve Hutchinson should have flown to Arizona to recruit Kurt Warner instead. And finally, the Baltimore Ravens. Yes, the Ravens are only 1-1 and have played two 2009 playoff teams in the Jets and Bengals. However, Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense (ok, mainly Flacco) have looked atrocious in their two outings. While the Bengals and Jets employ top flight defenses, a legitimate Super Bowl contender should still be able to muster some offense. On Sunday in Cincinnati, Flacco completed less than half of his attempts and threw four interceptions to boot. The defense, on the other hand, has done everything possible to win. In two games, they’ve surrendered only eight field goals and no touchdowns. Mark Sanchez stepped his game up today when his team needed him. If Flacco doesn’t do the same, he may be watching from the sidelines by midseason. (Or, be found in Ray Lewis’ trunk. One or the other.)
Someone take them to Chic-Fil-A (NFL’s top 5)
1. Saints – This early in the season, it’s hard to know the contenders from the pretenders. Until further notice, “the king stay the king.”
2. Steelers – Call me crazy, but the Steelers have beaten two potential playoff teams … without any help from their offense. They’re not the second best team in the league right now, but when Big Ben returns and the offense rises from the dead, lookout.
3. Texans – I’m 85% convinced they’re a really good team this year. I’ve been burned by Houston before, but so far so good.
4. Packers – Next Monday’s NFC North showdown with Chicago will tell us a lot about where the Packers (and Bears) stand. Until then, a nice win in Philly and blowout against Buffalo will suffice.
5. Colts – The Texans made the Indy defense look silly in week one. In week two, the Colts’ defense made Eli Manning and the Giants look awful. Peyton Manning is still the best player in the NFL.
Not even worthy of Ramen Noodle (NFL’s bottom 5)
28. Cardinals – You can count the win against the Rams if you want, but when two teams play, one has to win. The Cardinals aren’t very good, at all.
29. Panthers – Matt Moore doesn’t appear to be the solution at quarterback. The Carolina offense as a whole hasn’t been much better. Whenever you’re ready, DeAngelo Williams. It’d be nice to see the old you.
30. Browns – Someway, somehow, the Browns find a way to lose. I don’t think they’re this bad, but their record right now indicates otherwise.
31. Rams – You keep doing what you’re doing, Sam Bradford. At least the Rams compete.
32. Bills – Buffalo fans deserve better. Why doesn’t CJ Spiller touch the ball more?
Stock rising (but not in top 5, yet)
Bears – Jay Cutler has 5 touchdowns and only 1 turnover. The defense has looked good thus far too.
Dolphins – Two wins and they haven’t scored more than 15 points in a game yet. At 2-0, Miami doesn’t care. A win is a win is a win.
Chiefs – Kansas City is 2-0, so I feel obligated to include them here. Until they start giving Jamaal Charles more touches, they won’t be here long.
Stock falling (but not in bottom 5, yet)
Vikings – Their defense has played well enough to defeat both the Vikings and Dolphins. Brett Favre has played so bad that it hasn’t mattered.
Cowboys – They’re America’s team, but I think more people love watching Jerry Jones’ ‘Boys lose more than any other team.
Titans – Vince Young looked really bad against Pittsburgh. Kerry Collins is back, baby!
Things I thought and would’ve said, but my son is only 3 months old and wouldn’t understand…
- If you’re a fan of high-octane offensive football, I hope you avoided the Pittsburgh – Tennessee matchup. Less than 400 yards of combined offense, 8 turnovers, only one offensive touchdown, scored in garbage time nonetheless.
- Also, sorry, Vince Young. I didn’t mean to jinx your recent success by referring to you as an, “adequate quarterback.” Clearly, you couldn’t handle the pressure
- Randy Moss and Devin Hester both made impressive one-handed touchdown receptions. Moss’ was especially nice – never used his other hand.
- Andre Johnson is still the league’s best wide receiver, though. It’s not even debatable. Did you see his game tying reception in D.C.? That’s not even fair.
- The Bengals won, but their offense looks like Andre Iguodala’s offensive game… and that’s not good, at all.
- By the way, I think the, “Carson Palmer is a good quarterback” ship has sailed. That is, if it hasn’t already sunk.
- Speaking of quarterbacks, in my week two picks I called out third year pros, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan. Ryan played extremely well in week two while Flacco regressed furtther. Granted, the Bengals are a tougher team than Arizona, but Flacco needs to get it together nonetheless.
- LeSean McCoy has looked great in his first two games as the Eagles’ featured back. He’s quick, runs hard, and makes some incredible cuts. I was skeptical heading into the season, but I’m becoming a believer. Hopefully, Andy Reid sees it too.
- The Steelers defense owned Chris Johnson today. I didn’t think such a thing was possible.
- FOX’s Tim Ryan must have been on drugs. After DeSean Jackson CLEARLY dropped a 1st quarter reception, Ryan responded with, “That one was a lot more difficult to figure out than the Calvin play” (referring to Calvin Johnson’s catch that was called an incompletion even though it was actually a catch). Seriously, Tim, what are you watching?
- One last point about Tim Ryan; his awkward giggle and use of the phrase, “man strength” makes me uncomfortable. I considered muting my television.
- So apparently Lawrence Taylor was re-incarnated with lighter skin and long, flowing hair as Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. Matthews is “So…S…O…G…Double O…D…Good” Six sacks after two weeks? Good luck next week, Jay Cutler.
- Welcome to the NFL, Jimmy Clausen. When it doubt, chuck it to 89. Just trust me.
- I’m embarrassed to say I jumped on Seattle’s bandwagon after last week. No worries, though. I’ve abandoned ship already.
- Does Ray Lewis age? He still plays like he’s 25.
- Jason Campbell, Vince Young, David Garrard; please follow me this way to your seats on the pine. Getting benched in week two is never a good sign for you or your team.
- There’s the Donovan McNabb I know and love. It’s a shame his defense and a blocked field goal cost him and the Redskins the win. (By the way, it looked to me like Joey Galloway missed that deep bomb in the 4th quarter that would have sealed the win. The commentator said McNabb overthrew him but I disagree.)
- Tom Brady, you just got outplayed by Mark Sanchez. Seriously.
- I’m not right that often, but I never doubted the Colts or Peyton Manning for a second. The Colts looked scary good on Sunday night. Also, I like that Peyton doesn’t find satisfaction in beating his brother or watching his brother struggle. That’s pretty cool.
- The Saints don’t play until Monday night, so the Buccaneers are alone in first place atop the NFC South. Go figure.
- If I had to pick a receiver after Andre Johnson, I would have to go with Miles Austin or Roddy White. Both are targeted by defenses and both produce every week regardless of double teams.
- If every commentator that calls an Eagles’ game states that Trent Cole is underappreciated in the NFL, is he really underappreciated?
- And lastly, it took me months to figure this out, and I lost a lot of sleep, but I finally got it. The guy in the Miller Lite commercial about his panties being in a bunch is the big goon “Portman” from the Mighty Ducks movies. Boo-Yah!